Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Crab Stuffed Mushroom


There's nothing more enjoyable than cracking and eating crabs off a table covered with newspaper. Cold beer and those few hours becomes an experience.Within that experience are the memories.

It takes me back to the times we spent in Florida with my sister, Tess, and her family. Steam pots hissed on the stove and the aroma of Old Bay scented the southern air.
My son and I continue this tradition with one day each summer dubbed Our Crab Fest. We always steam too many crabs, so I devote the following day to extracting the sweet meat from the left over crustaceans. 
There is a treasure trove of recipes that require fresh crab....my favorite is stuffed Portobello Mushrooms topped with cheese. 3-4 large crabs will yield enough meat for this recipe. Use smaller mushrooms for appetizers. A larger mushroom is a full meal. A cup of cream soup like Hungarian Mushroom soup or She Crab soup and a small salad completes the meal. My daughter-in-law, Kelly, says, "These mushrooms are awesome, Ma." Hope you think so, too.    Enjoy!

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 Large Portobello mushrooms, washed, dried
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons onion, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup fresh crab meat
1/2 cup flavored bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup white wine (not sweet)
1 Tablespoon parsley
Olive oil
garlic & onion powders
salt

Rub the cleaned caps lightly with olive oil. Season mushroom caps with salt, garlic & onion powder. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a baking dish large enough to hold four large mushroom caps (or two dishes) with melted butter in it.

Remove the stems from clean mushrooms and chop them. Set aside.

Melt 2 T butter in a medium skillet. Cook stems and onion until soft about 4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, crab meat, bread crumbs, egg, parsley and 1/4 cup of cheese. Mix well.

Place mushrooms in buttered pan(s) and coat with butter.  Generously fill caps with crab meat mixture. Top each with remaining cheese. Pour wine into the pan around the mushrooms.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until cheese is golden brown and mushroom is tender. Serve warm.
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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pumpkin Pierogies In Cream Sauce


Our community has a cooking demo class each month. Chef Renee chose Pumpkin Pierogies to celebrate Autumn. Okay, so it's still 90 degrees in Florida, but just the thought of pumpkins and gourds makes me feel cooler. This is not a difficult recipe. If you don't have the desire to make your own dough....use pre-made wonton or empanada wrappers. I'm not a big fan of sage, but this has a mild sage taste which I will admit added another dimension to the sauce.  The pumpkin spices esp. cinnamon boosts the autumnal flavors. Pumpkin puree in itself is rather bland, so the pumpkin spices enhances this farm fruit's taste. The toasted pecans in the cream sauce is amazing....silky and crunchy....mmmmm, good.

For Dough:
2 cups AP flour (extra for rolling)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 stick butter, softened in pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Filling:

1 cup ricotta cheese
1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg & cinnamon or pumpkin spices


Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 tablespoon dried sage
dash of cinnamon
1 cup of cream (yes, real cream)

To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add to the flour mixture. Add the sour cream and the softened butter pieces and knead until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Each batch of dough makes about 15 pierogies.

While dough is resting, combine ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, salt and pumpkin spices in a medium bowl and mix well.

Place a section of dough onto a well floured surface and roll out until 1/8 inch (very thin). If dough is too thick the pierogies will be tough and difficult to cook. OR use the darn wonton wrappers!
Cut circles of dough with a biscuit cutter (2 inch circle) and fill each with a plump teaspoon of pumpkin mixture. Fold dough over and and crimp edges with a fork until sealed. A bit of water on edges might help the seal. Recipe yields about 16 pierogies.

Fill a large pot with water and a small amount of salt. Bring to a boil. Place about half the pierogies in boiling water until they float to the top. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

Toasting the pecans releases the natural oils and reinvigorated the taste.  To toast nuts, preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread out the nuts in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet. Place in the middle rack of the oven and toast for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through the cooking time so the ones in the middle toast as quickly as the ones on the outside of the pan.  Set aside to cool.

In a skillet, melt 4 T of butter. Add a single layer of cooked pierogies and brown on each side. Remove from pan. Don't burn the butter. Add butter as needed until all pierogies are lightly browned.
Add 2 T of butter in skillet. Add pecans, cinnamon and sage and saute for a minute then add cream and bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Serve sauce over pierogies.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chicken & Broccoli In Foil



My favorite item on an Asian Pu Pu Platter is that little foil package that contains sweet, moist chicken. I have never been disappointed. Today's recipe is just that....moist, flavorful chicken wrapped in foil. It is definitely easy to prepare and everything you want for a great supper is snuggled in this foil bed. I know this recipe has been around for awhile, but sometimes we overlook "oldie but goodie" recipes and need to be reminded to sample it, again. Change anything that doesn't suit your taste i.e. vegetable, sauce etc. Try it with fish, too.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (6 oz) box of Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1 &1/2 cups water
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or
small boneless breasts, flattened
4 cups Broccoli florets
1 &1/2 cups shredded cheese or your favorite
6-12 slices bacon, cooked almost crisp
3/4 cup creamy Caesar dressing or a favorite flavor
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
6 sheets of aluminum foil

Direction:

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Combine stuffing mix and water and spoon evenly onto centers of foil. Top each with 1 piece of chicken and a couple of broccoli florets. Top with cheese and bacon. Mix together dressing and mayo. Add a dollop of sauce to each packet. Fold the top and the sides of each packet but not too tightly so heat can circulate. Place packets onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is at 170F degrees. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Open carefully to release steam.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Rocky Road Cracker Bark


Retirement is fattening. It is a constant round of eating out, taking in, cooking, BBQs & noshing.  Residents of Victoria Gardens hail from every state in the Union, so imagine the array of dishes at a pot luck!  A few of my friends have a "specialty"....Rox is chili, Sue pizzelles, and Vicky is known for her Rocky Road Cracker Bark. It so darn easy and so darn good. When I know Vicky is attending a party, I keep my fingers crossed that she'll whip up a batch of this chocolate candy. I've tweaked the original recipe with add-ins to make this a delightful combination of sweet, salty, tart and crunchy. It'll have your taste buds dancin'. If you enjoy a toffee flavored candy, then you'll enjoy this confection.
A couple of tips: 1) Whisk the butter and sugar for the three minutes it is boiling. 2) Use a standard size baking sheet/pan not larger. 3) have all ingredients chopped and ready to go. 4) don't add more sugar.
Don't worry that the butter/sugar mixture isn't spread out enough, once it goes into the oven it will melt even more.
This is Vicky's basic recipe. It's delicious even before adding the extra ingredients. I love dark chocolate, but use milk chocolate if you like. How about tiny pieces of pretzel sticks? A dash of cayenne pepper? butterscotch chips? The salt topped Saltines gives this a pinch of salt taste, but how about Ritz crackers? Hmmm salty and buttery. Or Graham crackers for more of a S'more taste. Just about everything goes. Having said that...sometimes less is more. Enjoy and thanks Vicky!

Rocky Road Cracker Bark


1 sleeve of Saltine Crackers
1 bag chocolate morsels
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks butter
Add ins: 1/2 c dried cranberries, 1 c mini marshmallows, 1/2 c chopped nuts
 Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with PAM. Line pan with entire sleeve of saltine crackers.
In sauce pan combine brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil, then boil while whisking for 3 minutes. Pour butter/sugar mixture over the crackers. Spread. Put pan in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and put chocolate morsels on top and quickly spread morsels with a spatula. While still hot- top evenly with add-ins. Refrigerate until candy has hardened, peel back foil and break into pieces.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Mexican Stuffed Peppers: Crock Pot Cookin'




Just got this recipe from my lovely niece, Eugenia. She's a newly-wed and trying out new recipes that will please her husband, Tom.  With single digit temps in PA a crock pot provides a hot comfort meal. Eugenia isn't only a good cook but a talented photographer. Check out Eugenia Photography
The recipe below is in her exact words...couldn't be easier.  Looks like our family has another great "chef" in the making. Thanks, Eugenia...& keep sharing your recipes! 

Crock Pot Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients:
4 bell peppers
1 pound ground chicken (You don't have to brown it first)
1 small can of enchilada sauce
1 cup of rice (I used  cooked Mexican rice)
Packet of taco seasoning 


So I chopped the tops off of the peppers, cleaned them out, poured about half cup of water in the crock pot, and nestled the four of them in there. Then I mixed the rest of the ingredients together in a big bowl (I only used almost half of the small can of enchilada sauce) Stuffed those pepper babies and sprinkled shredded cheese over top! Then cooked on low for six hours.
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chicken, Cabbage & Cannellini Beans


One skillet meals are the best. This one is easy, but has several steps.  Don't let this stop you from trying it. It's not a difficult recipe....you just need patience. On a health note, no one wants undercooked chicken. Every, and I mean every, component of this meal is super delicious. It has many taste layers that will have your mouth in joy mode.

I have no idea how this recipe came to be...I just know I've been cooking it forever, it seems. And when I tell my hubby that this is dinner tonight, he sighs and his eyes glaze over. Okay, so I went too far to make my point. But you get my point, right?

I only use skinless chicken thighs. If in a hurry use boneless, but there is nothing more tasty then bone-in. My secret ingredient is kielbasa. It adds a smoky flavor that makes this dish a winner. Cabbage...I'm a savoy fan and only savoy. That's the one with the crinkly leaves. It's sweeter and more tender than the regular cabbage. BUT, if you can't find savoy, go ahead and use green cabbage. To make this dish more "stick-to-your-ribs" I prepare just a 1/2 cup of rice and add that at the end of cook time. And, oh, a half a can of cannellini beans go in at the very end so they don't get mushy. Just a bit of patience and you will be rewarded with a keeper for sure.

Yes, you can leave out the kielbasa...sigh, but you are doing this meal an injustice. Go for turkey kielbasa if the real thing is a deal breaker.

Chicken, Cabbage & Cannellini Beans: the 3 C 1 skillet meal

6 skinless chicken thighs, cleaned of excess fat
1/2 ring of kielbasa, any flavor, cut in circles
1 good size head of savory cabbage, rinsed
1/2 can of cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup of rice, cooked
onion powder
garlic powder
salt
oil, canola & extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c chicken broth (optional)

Season chicken with salt, onion powder & garlic powder. Set aside. Put a drop of canola oil in a large skillet and heat. Add kielbasa and brown circles on both sides. Remove to a platter. Don't drain skillet. In same skillet, heat two tablespoons of canola oil until screaming hot. Brown chicken on both sides until deep, golden brown. Remove to same platter as cooked kielbasa.
While chicken is cooking, core & cut cabbage into manageable pieces (not too small).

Put half the cabbage in skillet. Drizzle with olive oil & season with a bit of salt, onion & garlic powder. Let the cabbage begin to cook, (stir so it doesn't stick) then add the rest of the cabbage to the skillet. Season the same as first batch. Go easy on salt...you can always add more at the end.
Once cabbage begins to wilt, cover the skillet. When the cabbage starts to look clear, add the chicken and kielbasa. Mix well. Add a drizzle more olive oil if it looks dry. Cover.

Meanwhile: cook rice according to directions. I use a 1/2 cup of rice to 1 3/4 cup of water and a dash of salt and drop of oil. Put in microwave for 7 min on high. Stir. Then cook another 7 minutes.

Add cooked rice to chicken mixture about 5 min before chicken is cooked through and cabbage is soft and clear. Chicken is done when pierced and juice runs clear. Just at the end of cooking process, add the cannellini beans. Cover and heat through.Taste a leaf...add more seasonings if desired.

*if you like a meal with some "sauce" add a 1/2 cup of broth when the cabbage is almost cooked.

No need for a salad. But soft rolls like King's Hawaiian sweet rolls or corn bread go well with this.
Serves 3-4

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Witch Finger Cookies


Yeah, yeah, I know...Nanette doesn't do Halloween. Blame it on being a senior in an Adult Community...reliving my childhood. I posted a recipe for Green Monster Cookies a few days ago because I was bringing treats to the Divas Halloween Party. Friday night was the Community Halloween Party and I was asked to bake Crooked Witch Fingers. At first, I thought it was for the dessert table, but found out they were props for the Haunted House. The Victoria Gardens Haunted House is one of the best I've ever experienced. Kudos to Shari who spends hours researching, building, directing to make this a yearly success. Yes, she has lots of help and dozens of volunteer horror characters, but she is the force behind the whole event. Girl Power. My contribution to this year's Haunted House were the Witch Fingers. I didn't actually see the ghoul chomping on them because I was too busy screaming and covering my eyes!
Back to the cookie....The dough is a bit finicky. Once the ingredients are combined, you must refrigerate it. I made the dough, wrapped it in plastic wrap and chilled for most of the day, baking the fingers in the evening. Cut off a chunk, then rewrap and put in the freezer as you shape the fingers. Once in the oven, rotate the trays after 10 minutes. Don't let the fingers get too brown. The recipe should yield 60 but I got 55 out of it.

Witch Fingers
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
55-60 whole almonds
1 (.75oz) tube red decorating gel

Combine flour, baking powder, & salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Combine butter, sugar, egg, almond & vanilla extracts in a mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer and gradually add the dry ingredients as you continue to blend. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour.  
Set oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Remove a small amount of dough from the dough ball. Replace remaining dough in refrigerator or freezer. Roll dough into thin rope shapes. Press almond into the tip. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each finger to give the impression of knuckles.  Make slashes into the dough at knuckles. Arrange on lightly greased cookie sheets. Put cookie sheet in refrigerator for ten minutes to help retain shape when baking. Bake 20-25 minutes, rotating at ten minutes. Before fingers cool completely, remove the almond from end of finger and squeeze a small amount of red gel into cavity. Replace the almond to ooze gel out around the tip. Add red gel anywhere on finger for a "bloodier" look, if desired. 
originally found on allrecipes.com under Spooky Witches' Fingers


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Hubby & Me as a Bumble Bee & Beekeeper